Here is a spin on an American classic. I started with Alton Brown’s recipe, and adapted it. Depending on your preference, you can use either regular bacon or soy bacon instead.
The turkey bacon comes from Applegate Farms. I highly recommend taking a few minutes to look around their website. We got the eggs at the Carroll Street farmer’s market, and they came from Bar None Ranch in Berlin, NY.
I am writing the steps in the order that makes sense to share some pans and hopefully cut down on the cleaning time. You need to use at least three burners for this recipe, so be prepared. I know the several steps and multiple burners seems daunting, but the steps are mostly quick and easy. The whole thing should take 30 minutes or so.
Do you have a spin on a classic American Salad? Maybe you do a cooler Cobb or a whimsical Wedge…Or maybe you have a classic that you are looking to spin but are not sure how. Send your ideas and I’d love to try them out!
5 ounces baby spinach
Olive Oil (I lost count of how much)
2 Large Eggs
6 pieces of turkey bacon
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 large white mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup red onions, thinly sliced
1 small baguette, cubed
1. Place the spinach in a large mixing bowl.
2. The Eggs
Hard boil the eggs. I did it this way: Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover completely with water by one inch. Bring the water to a boil. Then, turn off heat and cover. Set timer for 15 minutes. When a few minutes are left, prepare a bowl of ice water.
Remove from heat and immediately place eggs in ice water. Chill for a few minutes. Carefully peel. Then, slice and set aside.
3. The Turkey Bacon
While the eggs are cooking, start to fry the turkey bacon. Fry until crispy, turning when you feel like it (Clearly, I am still a novice with meat…just cook it until it’s done.) Then, crumble it, tear it, or cut it into small pieces.
4. The Mushrooms
Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a small saute pan, and heat it up over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and stir. Add the white wine. Stir occasionally until mushrooms cook down and are slightly browned.
5. The Croutons
Once the turkey bacon is done, clean out the frying pan and put a few tablespoons of olive oil over low/medium heat. Spread the cubed bread onto a single layer on the frying pan. Cook bread for 10-15 minutes, turning every so often. Taste a few pieces as you go because there is not much better than baguette frying up in some olive oil. Plus, you thought you were just making a salad, so why is it taking longer than you expected?! (Don’t worry–you will soon be happy with the results.)
6. The Dressing
Once the eggs are ready, start making the dressing: In a small saucepan, heat 3 Tablespoons olive oil over low heat. Whisk in the vinegar, mustard, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Putting it all together!
Add the mushrooms and onions to the spinach, and toss. Add the bacon and dressing, and toss to combine. Top the salad with sliced egg and croutons.
On a hot, hot day, nothing can cool you off quite like a cucumber.
1/2 cup peanuts
4 cucumbers, peeled, cut in half length-wise, seeded, and chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 tablespoon salt
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped (adjust according to your spice tolerance–I’m looking at you, El Diablo)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1. Set oven to 325 degrees. Place peanuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Chop peanuts (You can briefly pulse in a food processor).
2. Toss cucumbers with salt and let sit in colander for 30 minutes. Drain excess water, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry between clean kitchen towels.
3. Mix sugar and vinegar until sugar dissolves. Stir in cucumbers, cilantro, jalapeno, and peanuts.
I have a few strong beliefs about Indiana sweet corn:
1. Indiana Sweet Corn is the Great Equalizer
Horace Mann said that education is the great equalizer. However, on a muggy summer evening in northern Indiana, when the fireflies light up the sky and the crickets start to play their nightly symphony, corn can certainly level the playing field as well.
My love affair with Indiana sweet corn began soon after my love affair with my husband started. We sat down to a wonderful dinner with his family on a hot Indiana night several years back. This was before we were married. I was just getting to know his family. Of course, I was feeling nervous about eating with the right fork, talking at the right time, and passing my food in the right direction.
When the corn got passed to me (from the left), I gingerly selected an ear, and quietly panicked. How am I supposed to eat this thing? No one was passing the corn holders from left to right. Reluctantly, I began to tackle the corn. It took me way too long to peel the husk off, as I was trying painstakingly hard to remove every single fiber. I delicately began nibbling at my corn, being careful not to get any stray kernels on the corner of my lips or between my teeth. Should I floss mid-meal?! I was about to take a knife to start cutting the kernels off the cob, when I finally looked around me.
I saw everyone else eating corn with gusto! Husks were being nonchalantly tossed to the middle of the table, and ear after ear was being devoured with no utensils or apparent concern for dental floss. Everyone was busy eating their corn type-writer style. It seemed that my future father-in-law had especially mastered this technique. He glanced at me for a moment, and smiled. I picked up my corn with two hands, started chomping away, and smiled back with a corn-toothed grin. It was then I learned the power of corn to bring people together.
2. Indiana Sweet Corn Can Be Eaten Raw
Before I tasted Indiana sweet corn, I used to only eat corn when it was slathered with butter and salt, or hidden under a mound of a mayonnaise/cheese/spices to make Mexican street corn. While I still adore the street corn at one of the numerous street fairs in NYC in the summertime, I enjoy eating Indiana sweet corn just as nature made it. If you’ve never eaten raw corn before, I recommend only doing so if the corn is as fresh as possible. We get our Indiana sweet corn from none other than Sweet Corn Charlie’s farm stand:
And a quick quiz, for my fellow city slickers. How many ears of corn grow on a single stalk? (Scroll down to find the answer)
Indiana Sweet Corn Salad
This recipe is from Real Simple magazine
1 cup walnuts
4 cups fresh corn kernels: To cut the kernels off the cob, first cut it in half crosswise. Then, Place one half cut end down on a rimmed baking dish or shallow bowl. The rim will keep the kernels from falling all over the place. Use a sharp knife and cut as much of the kernel off as possible. Avoid cutting too close to the cob, or you will end up with tough pieces.
2 jalapenos, seeded and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool and roughly chop.
In a large bowl, combine the corn, jalapenos, lime juice, oil, walnuts, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspooon pepper. Sprinkle with feta before serving.
Quiz Answer: One! (sometimes 2)
You can enjoy this corn salad with some beer can chicken. These lovely ladies are organic Amish chicken from northern Indiana.
I had the pleasure of attending Peter Berley’s “Go With the Grain” class at the Brooklyn Kitchen earlier this week. He is the author of The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, and The Flexitarian Table. I learned how to create a variety of grain salads from a real expert. My friend JL and I teamed up to create the tiny vegetable salad. This was my favorite, and not only because of my love of all things miniature. We sharpened up on our knife skills, and then diced our way through the class to create this beautiful and healthy salad. I re-created it this morning to bring to a vegan-hosted July 4th BBQ.
I learned a lot about making grain salads. Here are a few take-aways from the class:
1. “Water is the flavor killer in salads, ” according to Berley. In order to avoid this, I patiently drained and dried all vegetables in colanders and between clean kitchen towels. I preemptively murdered the heck out of the water. The results are very flavorful!
2. When making grain salads, the ratio of acid to oil should be equal, or even add more acid. The grains soak up a lot of the flavor. This is way different from making a green salad, where the ratio is typically much more oil to acid.
Cook barley: I put 1 cup of barley into 2 1/2 cups of boiling water, and then let simmer for 35-40 minutes. Then, rinse and drain completely. His recipe says to add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the water when you add the barley. I omitted this salt.
1 medium yellow squash, seeded and diced
1 medium zucchini, seeded and diced
1/3 c diced red onion
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 T thinly sliced scallion
2 T minced parsley and dill (or just one of these)
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T umeboshi vinegar (this is a delicious vinegar which is a by-product of pickled plums)
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 t fresh black pepper
1 or 2 bunches of watercress, for garnish
Add the squash, zucchini, and onion to a steamer, and steam for 3-4 minutes. Shock the vegetables in a large bowl to stop the cooking. Drain thoroughly. I let sit between clean kitchen towels to get as much water out as possible.
In a large bowl, combine the steamed vegeables, barley, cucumber, bell pepper, scallion, and dill/parsley.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt, and black pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well. Garnish with watercress.
This recipe was adapted from Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday. He suggested using frisee or escarole, but we had baby spinach and romaine–so we used that. We also substituted the suggested queso anejo for cotija cheese.
1 medium-large head (8 ounces) frisee or escarole, root end cut off, the remainder cut into 2-inch sections
2 medium-large (about 1 pound total) ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2 inch (or smaller) cubes
2 medium avocados, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin and cut into 1/2 inch (or smaller) cubes
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil (divided use)
1 pound skirt steak
ground black pepper
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or crushed through a garlic press
1/4 cup beef broth or water
1 canned chipotle chile en adobo, seeds scraped out and finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
About 1/3 cup grated Mexican Queso anejo or other garnishing cheese such as Romano or Parmesan
Scoop the greens into a large bowl. Spread the tomatoes and avocados over the top.
Set a very large (12-inch) heavy skillet over medium-high heat, and measure in 2 tablespoons of the oil. Sprinkle both sides of the skirt steak with salt and pepper. Lay it in the hot oil and cook until it’s about medium-rare, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on each side. remove to a cooking rack set over a large plate–this keeps the juices in the meat rather than running out onto the plate.
Turn the heat under the skillet to low. Add the garlic and stir for a few seconds, until very fragrant. Then pour in the broth (or water) and stir to release any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet (the liquid will quickly come to a boil.) Turn off the heat and add the chile, along with the lime juice and the remaining 1/4 cup oil. Season with salt (usually 1/2 teaspoon) and pepper (about 1/4 teaspoon).
Cut the skirt steak into roughly 3-inch lengths, then cut each piece across the grain into 1/4-inch strips. Add to the bowl with the frisee. Pour the warm dressing over the frisee and toss to coat thoroughly–the greens will wilt slightly. Divide among four dinner plates or large salad bowls. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and serve right away.